Monday, June 9, 2014

Dirty Thirty-Three Race Report

Going into Dirty 30 I wasn't sure how my body would have recovered from Quad Rock. Would my legs hold up? Would I be able to run a quality race? The week leading up to the race I took a few days off. The days I did run I could feel my legs had definitely started to recover so I was hopeful for a good race.

Views of the big mountains running with Nick
Saturday morning I made the hour drive to the race start and quickly parked hoping to get on the bus that was already loading runners. After scanning the line I realized there was no way I was going to get on that bus. So I re-checked my gear, took advantage of the no line porta potty before getting in line for the bus. I ran into Nick and Allisa while waiting for the bus and chatted with both for awhile. It felt like buses kept coming, filling up and leaving and I was always too far back in line to get on. I wasn't too worried though, both Anton and Kerrie were behind me and I was pretty sure the race wouldn't start without them! 

The race ended up starting about 20 minutes late. I was a bit worried Nick and I were lined up too far back, but the RD assured us that in less than a mile we would hit double track that would allow us to get our places. Well a quarter mile in I wasn't just in a conga line I was at a dead stop waiting to get in the conga line. I tried to remain patient knowing we had a long day ahead of us. Finally Nick and I hit the double track and were able to run our pace a bit. 

My legs were still not feeling great and the cold I'd been fighting all week had definitely left me fatigued. The first five miles passed with countless ankle turns, but otherwise pretty uneventful. Around 5ish miles we came up to a river crossing (okay that's a Colorado river) but it was still up to mid-thigh. So much for having desperately been trying to keep my feet dry through all the mud we crossed thus far. But in Colorado your feet rarely stay wet so long, not to mention there was really no time to worry about it. Then we started our climbs, at least this is when I really remember the climbs starting. I was worried because I was hiking much earlier than I had anticipated. Nick started pulling away on each climb, but as soon as the grade lessened I would catch back up. Nick and I passed Allisa around 6.5 miles. She was looking good so I figured she wouldn't be too far behind us. 

Then came the best part. We came around a corner into a small meadow that revealed awesome views of the big, snow-capped peaks. The sun was shining, the sky bright blue and for a moment I almost forgot I was racing. Hnads down my favorite section of the course. Then we ducked back into the trees. This was where I began to realize I was really going to have to pay attention. There seemed to be a million different trails going in every direction and there weren't a ton of flags on the course so I really had to pay attention to make sure I didn't miss anything. After a short downhill we started our scramble. There were seriously times where I was literally climbing hand over hand to get up some  pitches. The trails were awesome, but I hadn't realized how technical this course was so I was getting worried about my splits. I had assumed I would be able to run more of these sections. There were numerous moments where I was scrambling up rocks only to get to the top and have to stop and look around trying to decide where the hell the trail was actually going. 

Finally we hit a downhill stretch and my legs were ready to run...ah but the conga line that I had been dealing with for 15ish miles was still in full force. There was no passing on this section without taking some serious risks. And if you weren't even remotely close to as comfortable on technical downhills as I am you were going to be barely running. So needless to say I lost a lot more time here than I anticipated. 

Hanging at the park with Daddy
I got into aid station 3 around mile 17 just as it was starting to get hot. and 8 minutes off my split Allisa had warned me about the upcoming hill so I slammed a couple bottles of water and a ginger ale. Nick had gotten a bit ahead of me coming in, but I saw him heading out so I knew I could catch up to him pretty quickly. I took off out of the aid station feeling the best I had all day. I caught up to Nick just past mile 18, but I was feeling good and hiking strong so I had to just keep going. That's when everything I thought I knew turned upside down. I had studied the course profile and the climb was supposed to end around mile 19. Well mile 19 came and went, mile 20 came and went and finally somewhere around 21-22 miles in the climb ended. I was super confused on how I had been so off my mileage. But I knew the next aid station was at 23.5 and I just wanted to get there. It was really getting hot and I was riding a fine line of dehydration. Then mile 23.5 came and went, the miles kept ticking by 24, 25 and finally there was the aid station. This was my longest stop. I ran out of water 2 miles earlier and was crazy thirsty. So I chugged water, heed and ginger ale to gear up for the next section. 

I slogged along here with a belly crazy full of water. I kept reminding myself I would thank myself for it later. I was way off my splits, but really unsure of what was going on with the mileage. Maybe the aid stations were just not quite in the right spots I kept thinking. Just a few more miles and one more climb. I easily ran the downhill with the guy I'd met from Amarillo. As we made a jog in the trail around mile 26 he asked the course marshall how many females had passed. She estimated 6 and I nearly fell over. There was no way I could be that far ahead. This pushed me though and I quickly passed 2 girls. Then we started the climb up windy peak. I passed another girl near the bottom, but counting the girls I passed coming down I was guessing I was around 10th, but couldn't be sure. Windy peak seemed to go on forever, but I finally reached the top, got my bib checked and turned to head down. I was completely expecting to see Nick not too far behind, but never saw him so I began to worry about his race. 

I cruised easily into the last aid station just as my watch hit 30 miles and 6:40. Where had things gone so wrong? How was I not already at the finish? I was confused, tired, thirsty and ready to be done. The  volunteers cheered 2 more miles and I nearly fell over, what? How do I have 2 more miles? Arrr...head down and get this one finished. So I charged out of the aid station on a downhill jeep road. I was enjoying the downhill, apparently too much, when I realized I had caught sight of a yellow flag but hadn't seen anyone or any flags in awhile. I stopped and looked behind me. There were 2 guys not too far behind so they should be on the jeep road by now. No one. Hmmm...I kept going and kept looking back. I could hear the finish line now, I had to be going the right direction. Then I hit a gate and a campground. No sign of flags or course marshalls anywhere. I looked up the hill I'd just run down and muttered a series of profanities as I realized I now had to run uphill to figure out where I was. I'm guessing I only went off course for a mile or so, but it was enough to mess with my mind. I found a flag and a couple other runners and got back on course. But the next mile had very few flags and I kept thinking I was going the wrong way...mostly because

I was heading back uphill and I was sure that could not be right! I seriously asked at least 3 different people who were headed in the opposite direction if people were still going my direction and every time they said yes. So I kept going. Finally I saw another volunteer who assured me this time there was only 1.25 miles left. Seriously? It felt like they just kept adding miles that or they were measuring by Horton miles because my Garmin  never measures long for a run. But I was running downhill and could hear the finish line...again...I cruised down the last hill and through the finish line knowing I'd given up at least one place when I got off course. That one place would turn out to be the 10th place woman. I was so frustrated at myself for not paying closer attention. 

After I finished I wandered mindlessly toward the barn to collect my bag. The atmosphere was pretty subdued. My stomach could not handle the smell of over cooked burgers for another second. I lost what little contents I had left in my stomach just as I got passed the food area, good thing for everyone who could handle food. I finally found my way to the beer before finding a log to sit on and wait for the bus and hopefully see Nick and Allisa finish. A bus came about 30 minutes after finishing and knowing Dan would be worried about where I was, since I had finished an hour later than I expected, I knew I couldn't wait any longer for those guys to finish. Turns out they probably finished as I was getting on the bus. Overall it was not my best race. I'm still not sure what all went wrong, besides going off course and the course being 2 miles long, but I still should have been closer to 6:30. Not every race can be your best and this was certainly not my best. It's a learning experience. I learned I definitely need to improve my technical running, especially my technical uphill running. 

130 miles complete up next Leadville Trail Marathon!

Week May 26 - June 1

Miles Running: 52.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 11.5

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